The race ended with a 5th place finish today. I had a great race both strategically and physically, but simply could not pull off a top 3 spot in the sprint. It would seem everyone came here in prime form! I don’t get it?
The strategy was to simply try and shed as many riders off the lead pack before the finish line sprint. Due to my size, I am a very poor sprinter; fortunately, this “size” is solid mass, which makes me a strong Time Trialist. It takes me a while to wind up and get up to speed in comparison to my competitors. The course did not favor my strengths in road racing and when it came down to the final sprint, the sprinters shot out.
The race itself went well. The course was 40 miles with 3,500+ feet of climbing. I knew going into the race that it would be a trying course, particularly for me, if the other athletes came in with a strategy to attack on the climbs; it’s no secret, “Oz can’t climb”. Experience has taught me to anticipate this strategy and counter it by looking for places where I can attack on the descends before the climbs. This, in turn, forces the pack to chase up the first half of the climbs which tires them and allows me to lead the tempo up the climbs. On some courses there are no descends before the climbs but there were on this course. I was most grateful for them because it neautralized the pack’s attacks. It then became a scenario where we needed to push the tempo enough to try and shed the weak ones before the final sprint. We trimmed 3 of the 10 riders off the pack. At one point the UCI official neutralized us for some reason, of which I’m still unsure, and two of the three riders reconnected with the pack.
In the end, all but one of the competitors were in the pack for the final sprint to the finish. It was a grand finish and I placed 5th. Not entirely acceptable by my standard, but I’m happy with my overall performance. I could have been off the back had I not found a way to prevent the uphill attacks.
Today is the 3rd and final race with the Team Relay. And U.S. comes in as the favorite. To be continued….